EVOLVING CEOs of 2021: Haneesh Katnawer CEO of Himalayan Hemp

Haneesh Katnawer the ED & CEO of Himalayan Hemp Industries Pvt. Ltd. started his journey with his team to create a sustainable and conscious ecosystem.

Haneesh Katnawer holding Global Business Line Magazine

Haneesh Katnawer, an engineer who eventually felt quitting the monotonous job culture, in search of exploring greater ends. So, he was on his traveling expeditions and spent ample time as a writer in the Himalayas. The Himalayas always bewitch people irrespective of the parts they belong to! From the challenging slants of the various trails to bestowing a cup of coffee with your newfound companions, and the native lifestyle followed out by the local occupants. When he visited Ahmedabad, he met Sonam Sodha and they both led numerous journeys together in the hunt of great visions.

While dwelling in the Himalayan lifestyle and inhabitants, Sonam and Haneesh observed the real threat to the local variety of cannabis and Himalayan farmers due to new policies made by the government. Since Haneesh was from Himachal, he wanted to do something for Himalayan farmers to make them independent while preserving the authentic variety of cannabis that grows into the Himalayas. This urged made them come up with an initiative cum venture- “Himalayan Hemp”.

In order to better understand the situation and to operate with precision, they began to discuss what they were going to do, how they were going to do it, and how they were going to proceed. In the beginning, it was not as a business, but rather as a community movement.

Soon, they participated in meetups and that is where they started spreading awareness by communicating their ideas with people, building a team who all were excited to join them with no expectations.

Haneesh and Sonam

Haneesh and Sonam both wanted to create something that will benefit the people and environment. While brainstorming about the possibilities, they realized that embroidered culturally in the deep and spiritual social fabric of India, there are 66.7 Crore women. Out of the 47 crores, women fall in the average menstrual age range of 12-48 years. While urban women have moved on to use unhealthy but convenient disposable sanitary pads, rural women were still using unhygienic reusable cloth pads. Therefore, realizing this, they identified three main problems as poor menstrual hygiene, lack of alternate cash crops for farmers, and biomedical plastic waste generated with disposable sanitary pads footprint.

After NIAM, they are currently incubated in IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Mandi looking forward to enhancing their product with more beneficial features. During this journey, they also got their product validated becoming the first organization in the world to develop and validate 100% cannabis hemp fiber-based sanitary pads. Moreover, they came up with the idea of creating quality sanitary pads out of hemp fiber.

Thus, they came up with the idea of creating reusable sanitary pads for rural women. While working over its design and successfully making them out of hemp fiber led them to undergo multiple trials and eventually, the first prototype was developed. In parallel, both co-founders had realized that since hemp and menstruation, both were tabooed in India and since Haneesh was also doing creative writing in parallel professionally; they started creating awareness on social media with a defined AIDA model.

After coming into action, they got their first achievement by getting enrolled into Government Body – NIAM (National Institute Of Agricultural Marketing), Jaipur in December 2019. They received a grant of 5,00,000 INR from NIAM after finishing two months of rigorous training and also, carried out their market research realizing that most of the urban women are not comfortable.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sonam and Haneesh started working from home and designed the first tested design of the Cannspirator mask (World’s first lab validated reusable N95 hemp mask). This product was made in a joint venture with two more companies named Awega Green Technologies LLP, Pune, and Small Spark Solutions Pvt Ltd., Pune. The product was created with a vision of helping health officials and common people by providing them a standard mask and it has been manufactured with the help of local village ladies from Mandvi, Meerut, Pune, and Saharanpur with whom they had already connected for the manufacturing of sanitary pads previously. With this, the organization is trying to rehabilitate the local daily wagers by providing home-based work to those families who lost employment due to the pandemic.

Haneesh and Sonam are working with the vision of a “Hemp Family” where a man will be cultivating the hemp crop while a woman will stitch and assemble the pads making both of them earning members of the family. Haneesh and Sonam are inspirations for those who are willing to turn their dream or desire into reality.

What Himalaya Hemp aiming “Himalayan Hemp” is coming out to be more like a family where you support and create simultaneously. Whether it’s the economy, the environment, and society, a better world will form if all these go hand-in-hand.